Book Release: Catholic Teen Fiction

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Friendships in Fiction

I’ve been thinking and blogging about friendships lately. Since this is the release date for Life-Changing Love, I’ll write about the friendships in this story.

Fourteen-year-old Caitlyn Summer has two close friends: Peter and Zoe.

Friendships come in all shapes and sizes.

Friendships that are more like family: Caitlyn and Peter have practically grown up together because their parents had been friends since before they were born. So they think of each other more like brother and sister than like actual friends. Peter pokes fun at Caitlyn’s appearance, comparing her to Raggedy Ann or a long-haired red cat, and Caitlyn has no problem making a pig out of herself in front of him. They spend a lot of time arguing, teasing and rolling their eyes at each other, but when the need arises, they are both willing to be there for the other.

“Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache: do be my enemy for friendship’s sake.” ~William Blake, English poet

Best Friends Forever: Zoe and Caitlyn are BFFs since grade school. One of five children in her family, Caitlyn is a bit clumsy and she’s shy around boys. Plus she lives in a house so small she has to fight for a turn in the bathroom. Zoe, however, is an only child. And she’s one of the most popular girls in school. She’s always had a boyfriend and she lives in a big, newer house, with her own bathroom. Their differences don’t stand in the way of their friendship. They walk to each other’s house almost every day. They know each other inside and out, and they share all their secrets with each other. At least they used to. Until Zoe had something to hide.

“Cherish your friend, keep faith in him.” ~Sirach 27:17

Friendship with family members: Sometimes the ones closest to us hurt us the most. It’s hard to relate to them and, try though we may, they just don’t seem interested in friendship. Poor Roland who felt friendless in the first story in this series (Roland West, Loner) is determined to develop a friendship with his older brother Jarret, who has always been more like an enemy.

“What are brothers for if not to share troubles?” ~Proverbs 17:17

Friendship with Yourself: Jarret’s twin brother Keefe is working on a friendship of his own, if you can call it that. He’s lost himself over the years, or maybe he’s never really known himself. So, while on assignment in Italy, he’s working on finding out who he is. I’m sure he’s not the only person who has let the failures of the past and other concerns in life stand in the way of loving yourself.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.” ~St. Francis de Sales

Every friendship is unique. I enjoy creating unique friendships in each of my stories. Some friends share similar pasts and experiences. Others have many things in common now. Some share a similar sense of humor or outlook on life. I suppose all friends care about each other and enjoy each other’s company. I believe that a solid friendship needs to be built on trust and honesty and the ability to be oneself. But we all make mistakes, so a true friend is one who remains your friend even when you mess up.

What characteristics do you think make for a good friendship? I would love to read your thoughts on friendship in the comments!

And here’s a bit more about my new Catholic teen fiction which comes out today:

Life-Changing Love: a novel about dating, courtship, family, and faith

Life-Changing Love3D.jpgCaitlyn Summer, soon to be fifteen, must practice old-fashioned courtship with high parental involvement, but she has a terrible crush on shy Roland West and she has competition from a girl with no restrictions. As Caitlyn struggles to remain faithful to God, her parents, and herself, her best friend gets pregnant and might get an abortion. When Caitlyn discovers her mother’s past mistakes, she begins to resent all the guidelines her parents expect her to follow.

The characters in Life-Changing Love face the questions: Who am I? Where am I headed? How am I going to get there?

Order Life-Changing Love here.

Watch the book trailers here!

Reviews:

“The way Linden weaves her characters and various intricate plots together is at once delightful, edifying, heartwarming, and, believe it or not . . . even hilarious at times.” ~Susan Peek, author of the best-seller Saint Magnus, the Last Viking and other saint stories

“With its strong pro-life message, Life-Changing Love will open the doorways to many great conversations about what love and life are all about.” ~ A.J. Cattapan, author of the award-winning book Angelhood

Life-Changing Love is a poignant tale about the beauty of life and the importance of being yourself. It is well-written and compelling, inspiring me to finish it within a few days. . . . threads are tied together seamlessly, as they form a love letter of life that God has given us.” ~ Gina Marinello-Sweeney, author of The Veritas Chronicles

“You’ll love Roland West, Caitlyn, and the cast of Life-Changing Love as they experience the heartache, trials, and pitfalls of courtship and dating.” ~ Cynthia T. Toney, author of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

 

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Online friends…are you for real?

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If you were to check my Face Book page, you’d find that I have 200+ friends! Maybe that number is small compared to how many FB friends you have. But I’m a bit of an introvert so it’s a lot of friends for me!

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Of course, most of those FB friends I’ve never met face to face. And I know very little about them. Some play Candy Crush. Some like cute animals. Some are writers like me. Some “like” my posts and I “like” theirs. But when I think about what a friend is, I’d say most of my FB friends are really acquaintances.

I do actually communicate with some of my online friends. We comment on each others FB posts, exchange emails, and even help each other out. But are they really friends? Can you develop close friendships without ever meeting face to face?

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When we communicate in person, we pay attention to more than just words. We watch expressions and body language, we listen to tone and volume of voice, and we notice attitudes. When you’re just reading words, you can’t always identify the sarcasm, seriousness, sensitivity, or humor–even with emoticons.

 

After you’ve posted or hit “send,” have you ever worried that your email or FB post might be misunderstood? Will my 200+ friends misunderstand this post and “unfriend” me?

Even considering the limitations with this method of communication, I do believe that some of the people I’ve met online seem to really “get” me. And I “get” them. I can’t help but think that if we lived nearby we’d be close friends.

While all friendships are about relationship, there are different levels of friendship. Close friends have kindred spirits. And close friendship takes work. Friends support one another, laugh together, cry together, and listen to each other. They get to know each other on a deeper level, allowing themselves to be vulnerable as they share things that they don’t share with acquaintances. Friends help each other, without counting the costs. Sometimes this means making a tough call or giving hard advice. A friend wants the best for the other, and so might even risk damaging the relationship for the sake of their friend. These are the type of friendships that endure.

I have friends like this that I only communicate with online. We might not email or message every day, but we are there for each other. We share things in common that are very important to us, like writing and faith. We help each other with time-consuming projects, like critiquing each others stories. We’ve gotten to know each other through sharing our goals, joys, and the struggles we face. We’ve even prayed for each others intentions with novenas and fasting.

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So I say, “Yes! While it’s important to choose your close friends wisely and to understand the different levels of friendship, online friends can be real friends!”

Do you have close friendships with people you’ve never met face to face? Share your experience in the comments.

This post is dedicated to Susan Peek, writer of saint stories for children and YA, and Carolyn Astfalk, writer of Christian romance and blogger extraordinaire.

 

Picking up where you left off.

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Friendships are important. Friends keep us from feeling alone in the big, wide world. So I’ve decided to dedicate several posts to the theme of friendship. Because I’m a writer who loves to read, my thoughts about friendship are also wrapped up in books!

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I’m talking about those special friendships you’ve made over the years, that person or people that you once saw daily or relied on heavily, that you grew with or that shared all the ups and downs of life with you. Maybe now, because of distance and/or the busy-ness of life, you no longer have the opportunity to see each other as often. These are the people, the person, that when you get together, you seem to pick up right where you left off, as if you’ve never been apart.

webbThese friendships remind me of books, old favorites like Charlotte’s Web, To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Lord of the Rings. You’ve read the whole book from beginning to end, several times over, but you can still pick it up and find something new. Or you read it for a while and remember why you love it so much. It’s comfortable. It’s special. It has meaning. It’s a part of you.

A person doesn’t “get” every person nor does one “connect” with every person.

I’ve read books that are very deep, or laden with clues and details that seem relevant, or that have so many characters it’s hard to keep them straight. I sometimes find myself rereading sections or flipping back to earlier chapters. And when I pick the book up a day or two later, guaranteed, I need to reread a bit to get back into it.

Then you stumble upon those books that are easy to follow, that have unique or relatable characters, and that pull you right into the story no matter how many days have passed since you last read from it.

blindsideI’m reading a book like that now: The Perfect Blindside, a Christian teen fiction by Leslea Wahl. While I can’t relate to Jake, “an Olympic snowboarder whose fame has gone to his head,” I can relate to Sophie, the only girl in town who doesn’t throw herself at his feet. The voices of both point-of-view characters are so well done that I got into the characters and their story lines at once. Each chapter ends leaving me dying to know what happens next. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to read these past few days. However, whenever I pick up the book, it’s like I never left the story.

And isn’t it like that with some friendships you have? In my young adult years, when I still had a weak grasp on who I was and what I wanted out of life, I met my soon-to-be best friend. We worked at the same food packaging plant, doing monotonous jobs in a less-than-pleasant environment. A few years older than me, a Southern Baptist to my Catholic, married and with two children to my single and carefree, we didn’t seem to have a lot in common.

I can still remember one day when we stood across from each other at the assembly line conveyor belt. Bored out of my mind, I tried to put some variety into my routine, and I ended up shutting the line down. Rather than grumble like everyone else on the line, my soon-to-be friend laughed with me and tried to help me recover from my “mistake.” At that moment I recognized a kindred spirit, and a friendship was born.

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Over the years, we’ve seen each other at our best and at our worst. She’s challenged my beliefs and eventually challenged me to look at how I lived my faith. We’ve argued and fought and we’ve grown. We’ve shared many awesome experiences, and we’ve been there for each other in the hard times. She now lives in Arizona so we don’t see each other often. But whenever we connect, it’s like picking up a favorite book. I know her. I love her. And I know she knows and loves me. A bond has formed between us that will last forever. Better than a favorite book!

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